One of the few black models to make it in the region, the 20-year old student, dressed in the latest Gant men's collection, talks smashing stereotypes with Farah Hosny while our fashion team led by stylist Gehad Abdallah brings out her tough side.
Impossibly tall and slender, and with the kind of striking bold features that the fashion industry clamours for - a face that’s all angles and deep set dark eyes - Suzan Idris’ appearance instantly reads model. But the inherent irony in this is that the 20-year-old Accounting student never saw that in herself and essentially tripped and fell into the flourishing career she now has, when she had barely broken out of her teenage years.
“I’m not really a fashion person actually,” Idris explains with a laugh, “So when I was first approached to model I was like no, I don’t like the camera, I don’t like attention, I don’t know anything about posing or fashion; I’m not the person you want.” That incident occurred three years ago in her freshman year of university when a friend asked Idris to model for a project - a concept she vehemently opposed at the start. But she complied, and soon after, she was requested for an official photo shoot by Batool El Daawi. “I literally just stared at her when she asked me,” Idris laughs. “But I’m usually an adventurous person so I was like, 'why not?'" Eight months later, the reluctant model had a change of heart and made the deliberate decision to actually pursue the art of posing. “For a while I still didn’t get it, fashion didn’t move me, but there was that turning point where I decided I wanted to try it,” Idris explains. And that’s when things kicked off and the model starting landing shows and fronting campaigns. And her initial hesitance seems almost absurd now, as she poses effortlessly in front of the camera, even managing to make the edgy men’s Gant attire she’s donning look fierce and feminine on her slim frame.
In a sea of pretty girls whose faces get plastered on the sartorial scene, Idris stood out as possibly the only one whose skin tone was not of the Fair and Lovely ads that absurdly still hit our screens in Egypt, but rather a Beyoncé shade of burnt caramel, essentially making her an anomaly. “I’m a model and I’m black and in a very racist environment – and I’m still amazed about that up until today.” Born to Sudanese diplomat parents, Idris was raised in Egypt her entire life and her success is often framed in the context of an upbringing in a nation that often looks upon those with darker skin with disdain. “Hell yeah, Cairo is very racist,” the model says matter-of-factly. “Up until now I still feel it – people might make a comment when I’m driving and stuff…It is what it is.” But despite that, she’s proven her ability to ascend the modelling ranks regardless of the melanin content in her skin, and when we called her The Model Who Broke The Mould she says sincerely, “you have no idea how much that line meant to me.”
But on the flip side, she points out that Cairo’s culture also granted her the luxury of even considering modelling. “Sudan is even more conservative than Egypt – you guys don’t realise the extent of it and the luxury that is living in Cairo, in comparison to there.” Though she concedes that now “fashion is starting to grow in me,” the 20-year old, mature for her years, also doubts that she will continue in the modelling field, considering the stunted longevity of a career in it. “As a career, modelling isn’t a stable one,” Idris explains. “It has a shelf life, you know, until I’m 25 or maybe 30, but I can’t consider it as a long term decision. I’m currently studying accounting and I’m probably gonna stay in that career.”
But she continues to see modelling as means of growing and learning. “Modelling is actually close to accounting in the sense that I see myself as a resource; I try and take care of myself and reinvest in myself and grow myself, as if I’m a company. Modelling is like a ladder and I try to scale it,” she explains. And having started effectively working at an age when most of had few responsibilities besides making it to class on time has given her a leg up on the maturity scale. “It made me grow faster, mature faster. I learned to pick what I want and what I don’t from an early age. No one manages me so I have to make my own decisions and I have to make them wisely.” And so far she’s displayed wisdom beyond her years, and beauty that had defied convention in Cairo and we have no doubt that she will continue to dominate at whatever career path she do decided to pursue.
Photos produced exclusively for CairoScene by @MO4Network's #MO4Fashion
Styling & Art Direction: Gehad Abdallah
Photography: Lobna Derbala
Styling assistant: Karim Rahman
Hair: Mohamed Al Sagheer
Makeup: Yasmin El Khashab
Shot at C-Reality.
Shop the shoot at Gant stores across Cairo: 5 Lebanon St., Mohandessin; Mall of Arabia, 6th of October and Cairo Festival City, 5th Settlement.